Return Seized Assets To Me, I Wasn’t Given Fair Hearing — Diezani Tells FG

A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to vacate an order granted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for final forfeiture of her seized assets.

Alison-Madueke, in an originating motion obtained by journalists on Monday, sought an order extending the time within which to seek leave to apply to the court for an order to set aside the public notice issued by the EFCC to conduct a public sale on her property.

The EFCC had planned to conduct a public sale of all assets seized from Alison-Madueke beginning January 9, as contained in its public notice, following various court judgments/orders issued in favour of the commission as final forfeiture orders against the property and personal effects of the former minister.

The ex-minister, in the motion, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/21/2023, dated and filed on January 6, by her lawyer, Dr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), before Justice Inyang Ekwo, sought five orders from the court.

While Alison-Madueke is the applicant, the EFCC is the sole respondent in the suit.
The former minister, who argued that the various orders were made without jurisdiction, said these “ought to be set aside ex debito justitiae.”

She said she was not given a fair hearing in all the proceedings leading to the orders.

“The various court orders issued in favour of the respondent and upon which the respondent issued the public notice to conduct a public sale of items contained in the public notice most of which court the interest of the applicant were issued in breach of the applicant’s right to fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, and other similar constitutional provisions,” Ozekhome said.

According to him, Alison-Madueke was not served with the charge sheet and proof of evidence in any of the charges, or with any other summons about the criminal charges pending against her in court.

He also argued that the courts were misled into making several of the final forfeiture orders against her assets through the suppression or non-disclosure of material facts.

But the EFCC, in a counter-affidavit deposed to by Rufai Zaki, asked the court to dismiss Alison-Madueke’s application.

Zaki, who was a member of the team that investigated a case of criminal conspiracy, official corruption, and money laundering against the ex-minister and some other persons involved in the case, said the investigation had clearly shown that she was involved in some acts of criminality.

“We hereby rely on the charge FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 dated November 14, 2018, filed before this court and also attach as Exhibit C in the applicant’s affidavit,” he said.

The EFCC operative, who said he had seen the ex-ministers motion, said most of the depositions were untrue.

According to him, contrary to her deposition in the affidavit in support, most of the cases that led to the final forfeiture of the contested property were “actions in rem,” which were heard at various times and determined by the court.

Zaki argued that one Nnamdi Kalu represented the ex-minister in one of the forfeiture applications.
The officer said that, contrary to her opinion, the final forfeiture of the assets that were the subject of the present application had been ordered by the court since 2017 and that this had not been set aside or overturned on appeal.

Zaki said the properties have been disposed of through the due process of law.

Upon mentioning the matter on Monday, Alison-Madueke’s counsel, Oluchi Uche, told Justice Ekwo that they had just been served by the EFFC on Friday and they would need time to respond to the counter affidavit.

Farouk Abdullah, who appeared with the anti-graft agency, did not oppose, and the judge adjourned the matter until May 8 for a hearing.

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